Can Elliptical Cause Calf Pain?

Elliptical trainers provide a similar cardiovascular workout to running but without the jarring stress on the knees.

A thinner, budget-conscious model, while available with elaborate add-ons, may fit neatly in your house, bringing the convenience of the gym to your living room.

The elliptical, like any other workout machine, has the potential to cause pain in some people. This includes pain in your stomach, soles, and plantar muscles, as well as the calf.

Elliptical Tightness

Although there isn’t much evidence linking elliptical trainers to calf tightness, the posture of your lower body affects the machine’s influence on your lower-body muscles.

When walking or running on a treadmill, your knees extend as you take a step forward, stretching the calf muscle; but during elliptical strides, your knees remain slightly bent.

When compared to walking, the elliptical places a larger effort on your calf muscles, so the combination of repeating strides, unscratched calf muscle, and a heavier muscular load could all contribute to tight calves.

The Strains

Pedaling the elliptical backwards is more effective than peddling ahead, but it can put too much tension on the gastronomies, soles, and plantar regions.

Look for a stiff calf that gets increasingly more uncomfortable and tighter over the course of a few days.

The motion on the elliptical can strain all three muscles, but because the elliptical simulates running, the soles muscle is more likely to be damaged by a calf strain.

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness, affect your calves half a day to one day after an elliptical workout and can worsen at any moment throughout the next 24 to 72 hours.

DOMS your body’s attempt to repair small muscle tears causes pain. You exercised the affected muscle harder the more sore you were.

While DOMS is usually not a cause for concern, avoid using the elliptical for a few days.

If your calves will allow it, take a light stroll before returning to your elliptical session.

Primary Causes

It’s less likely that the elliptical is the actual cause of your muscle stiffness than the major causes of muscle tightness.

Your tight lower legs are most likely the result of not following a regular stretching program.

Muscle cramps, which are defined as a sudden acute tightening of the muscle and can be caused by muscle fatigue, dehydration, low sodium, or low potassium, can occur on an elliptical.

Delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS, is another stiffness you might feel, especially if you’re new to using the elliptical.

If you exercised at a higher intensity than normal, DOMS produces muscle discomfort and stiffness for a day or two.

Workout Pacing

As the American College of Sports Medicine agrees, you can have too much of a good thing.

Overtraining, which raises the chance of injury, is caused by pushing yourself by increasing the elliptical resistance before you’re ready or not allowing yourself enough break between exercises.

According to the ACMS, overtraining lowers performance, lengthens recuperation time, and even affects your immune system.

To avoid overtraining, gradually raise your resistance as your ability level rises, and gradually add duration in five-minute increments each week.

Calf Pain Relief and Prevention

While calf pain is normal when first starting out on the elliptical, stretching before and after your workout can help.

Begin with stair calf stretches that are vigorous. It should center the balls of your feet on the edge of a step.

Then, as you drop your heels off the step, tighten your gluts until you feel a stretch in your calves.

Return to your original starting position. Rep the stretch until your calves are no longer tight. After your elliptical workout, do four sitting calf stretches on each leg.

Sit with your legs outstretched on the floor. Grab both ends of an exercise band and wrap it around the sole of your left foot.

Pull on the bands while straightening both legs. As your toes curl toward you, feel your calf lengthen.

Hold the stretch for 30 seconds before letting go. At least four reps on each leg are required.


Every day, especially after using the elliptical, stretch your calf muscles. The calf wall stretch is a good calf muscle stretch.

Stand with your back to a wall and your hands at shoulder height on the wall. Step backward with the leg that has to be stretched, with your toes about 2 inches from the wall.

Lean against the wall with your back leg stretched and your front knee bent.

Keep the heel of your extended leg flat on the floor and hold the stretch for 30 seconds after you feel a stretching feeling in your calf.

Repeat this stretch three times on both legs.

Wearing a plantar fasciitis night splint, which offers a gentle stretch throughout the night, is another technique to stretch the calf muscles. Stretching can also help with the tightness that comes with DOMS.


You’re setting yourself up for tightness if your range of motion is restricted. Use an elliptical that allows you to stride through your entire range of motion.

Maintain proper posture by tightening your abdominal muscles to brace your spine, bringing your shoulders back, and gently forwarding your head.

To minimize muscular cramps, drink electrolyte replenishing drinks if you plan to use the elliptical for longer than 60 minutes.

If you get a muscle cramp, don’t stretch it during the spasm because it could tear it, rather stretch it as soon as the cramp is gone.

Leave a Comment